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Armor, a cloud security provider, recently published its second annual research report. It highlighted the use of dark web marketplaces for money laundering using Bitcoin.
If you have the cash, the dark web has the solution
Armor’s report was prepared after a five-month-long study of 12 dark web marketplaces. These marketplaces cannot be accessed by regular internet users and are frequented by hackers and cybercriminals. According to the report, these marketplaces are thriving despite a crackdown by authorities, and they are now selling Bitcoin for “pennies on the dollar.” The criminals are engaging in money laundering, using Bitcoin as a means to aid their activities.
The Threat Resistance Unit (TRU) of Armor studied these markets between February 2019 and June 2019, primarily those using Russian and English language. The markets are also selling credit card details, bank account details, and even DDoS attack services to the buyers.
Bitcoin’s use in money laundering
The report states that a buyer could send the hacker $800 worth of Bitcoin to get over $10,000 transferred to their bank accounts. They could also get the sums wired using Western Union. These hackers can not only remove some items from a user’s credit report but could also provide several thousand followers and likes for social media accounts.
Using Bitcoin for money laundering is one of the most alarming activities reported by the researchers. Buyers are paying only 12 cents on the dollar to newbie criminals to launder funds. Head of the TRU team at Armor, Chris Hinkley commented that such an offer could be very attractive to a scammer who doesn’t possess vast technical skills or access to a larger network that could use the information he has- like credit card and bank account details.
“This is an offer that can be very attractive,” he said, “This clever service gives them an additional channel for monetizing the large amounts of financial data available on the underground.”
Cryptocurrency scams have become rampant over the course of the last two years, owing to rising mainstream interest in digital currencies. This year, as the price of Bitcoin and other digital currencies increased, criminal activity has increased as well. The latest report shows that even novice criminals are now using digital coins to monetize the information they have access to. Other, more sophisticated criminals are also involved in targeting crypto exchanges, whilst bitcoin robot scams such as the infamous Bitcoin Code software are on the rise. The US government recently sanctioned three hacker groups, including Lazarus.